43. Meanwhile, Peggy’s work was kind of petering off. She reached the point where she didn’t feel like forcing the teachers, and they showed little enthusiasm when she was not pushing them. One Monday when she was scheduled to start a new series of in-service training sessions for third grade teachers, she got an unexpected vacation: for the first time in the history of the Philippines the Manila public school teachers went on strike.
Peggy felt Filipino school teachers were really mistreated. Through some fancy politicking, teacher’s pay was drastically cut so that their basic salary was only P212 a month. (Peace Corps Volunteers got P275 a month plus rent plus medical expenses, and we didn’t have families.) And even this meager amount was often paid late. All and all there were something like eleven grievances, but most centered around salaries.
Since it was illegal for teachers to strike, they declared themselves to be on a mass leave of absence. Initially only 13,000 Manila teachers were absent, but teachers in the province were supposedly also restless. The Secretary of Education cancelled classes in Manila for a week, then proceeded to get a court injunction ordering the teachers to return to work. That was on Tuesday, but on Wednesday the teachers were still absent. Peggy thought that by the end of the week things would be settled enough for classes to open again. But she thought if politicians just made a bunch of promises and then didn’t come through, there would be a lot more vacations. It seemed like teachers in Manila had always been passive, but they weren’t anymore. And Peggy thought that they were going to fight until their demands were met.
44. We took Linda, our maid, with us on our Christmas vacation, and she seemed to enjoy traveling. We saw some beautiful countryside as most of our trip was either along the cost or through the mountains. The best part was the last three days, which we spent in Bontoc, a small mountain town. (The bus ride to Bontoc started in the resort town of Baguio. The bus averaged 20 kilometers an hour … 9 miles an hour!) We spent the last day in Bontoc hiking up a mountain, across rice terraces, and part way down and back. Linda found climbing up hard, and Peggy found coming down the hardest. None of it seemed hard to me.
45. “The Theatre among the Ruins” in Fort Santiago (in which I worked) was in an open space no larger than twenty by eighty feet … a space made more constricted by a T-shaped stage whose arms extended the whole length of the enclosure, and whose leg virtually bisected it. The audience sat in swivel chairs since the action surrounded them, giving each person a strong sense of participation. I first encountered this theatrical concept as a student of Paul Baker. The audience at Baylor Theater, and later at Trinity University …theaters Baker designed … also sat in swivel chairs.
Randy and Peggy Ford